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      10-20-2011, 03:08 AM   #1
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Affordability of the 3-series (and other BMWs)

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Can anyone from experience share what the relative affordability of 3 series cars is now compared to the past? It seems to me that with every new model, the 3 series becomes more unaffordable. For the F30, I have yet to see the prices, but the expectation is that prices will go up, of course.

For example, in the Netherlands, the E90 started out at around 38,000 for a bare-to-the-bones 318i. If you start ticking off the options, that figure easily go up to 50,000 (Nav, Leather, Sunroof, nice wheels etc). Choose one of the mid-range engines, 320d for example, and you're already looking at 55,000.

Going on the rough assumption that a person can afford to drive a car that is 0.8x their annual salary, one would have to be earning 69,000 a year to buy or lease a nicely specced 320d. Not exactly in the "yuppie" range, if you ask me.

Was the 3 more affordable in the 80s and 90s? I seem to remember that back in those days, 3er's were mostly being driven by 20-somethings. Then again, maybe my memory is not as sharp as it usd to be.
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      10-20-2011, 06:29 AM   #2
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My father bought his first BMW in 1992, a E36 325TD with some options. Almost 20 years ago. The car wasn't fully loaded, au contraire. Price was 75,000 Dutch guilders, for a 115BHP 2.5 inline 6 turbodiesel with some nice rims and some stuff in the interior. 75k guilders= 34k euro. BUT inflation etc makes me think that 75k guilders was a lot of money in those days. A bread-and-butter Volkswagen Golf was about 25-30,000 guilders, I remember that because I had one.

So I don't think only BMWs are getting more expensive in the first place: you get more luxury, more power etc. for a bit more money I guess.
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      10-20-2011, 02:58 PM   #3
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Is 80% of annual salary the actual guideline? I'd never heard that before, and it sounds ridiculously high to me. Some of us have kids' schooling and houses to pay for, too. I can't imagine what my wife would say if I came home in a car that cost 80% of my annual salary. I'd be forcing the family to eat scraps for a few years.

Each new model does seem more expensive than the last, I agree. I'm waiting for the one with the price and performance that makes me willing to part with my 330i. I haven't found it yet.

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      10-20-2011, 05:06 PM   #4
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You reality is so different from ours .

38000 Euros (VAT included) will buy a 335i with taxes here in North America.

80% of annual income is way too much, IMO.
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      10-21-2011, 11:46 AM   #5
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The 3er has been pretty good actually.

We had a 1993 325i with just a few options (LSD, folding rear seats) so it had leatherette and the auto. It was $33k.

I currently have a 2006 325i with the premium package (so leather, power seats etc) and heated seats. The equipment level is far better. The engine make more hp, gets the same mpg (30-32 on the highway), the auto has two extra gears and it is certainly roomier without being huge. It was $34,500.

So, in 13 years, two generations and inflation, with much more standard equipment and better performance, it was $1500 more. Not too bad in my eyes...

Once you take out options that just weren't available back then, or the improvements in the tech, comparisons keep all pretty close, really.

As it looks now, for a little more, an F30 328i will be quicker to 60, get much better fuel mileage, have standard iDrive etc. I know BMWs are expensive, but when compared to prior gens and with some inflation, overall not too bad. You can load them up of course, but that's how BMW/MINI makes a profit.
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      10-23-2011, 04:19 PM   #6
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Don't forget a little thing called inflation. At $33k in 1993 dollars, your old E36 was much more expensive than your E90 was if you bring both to 2011 dollars.
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      10-23-2011, 05:20 PM   #7
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Maybe 20% of annual income...
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      10-23-2011, 07:10 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Saintor View Post
You reality is so different from ours .

38000 Euros (VAT included) will buy a 335i with taxes here in North America.

80% of annual income is way too much, IMO.
You guys are reaaaally lucky! You earn more and even get things cheaper!! A 320d is 70.000$ here. My F10 535i with quite a lot of options cost me 100.000$ CASH, and a practically barebone X1 cost me 57.000$
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      10-23-2011, 07:47 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by 335i101 View Post
Maybe 20% of annual income...
Without hi-jacking entirely that's too far towards the other side of things. That means that someone should me making $250K/year to buy a $50K car. That's equally unrealistic.

Back to affordability, BMW has made a number of features standard that weren't before, peoples expectations of what is in a luxury car keep expanding so that drives up costs as well. Add inflation to that mix as well. That and if the market is there they are free to charge what the market will bear.
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      10-24-2011, 03:41 AM   #10
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R & D cost is much much lower too compare to the past, the design of engine nowadays very much tell can / should work on computer without the actual build ..

btw, hi all i am new here
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      10-24-2011, 12:49 PM   #11
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I believe companies use economies of scale more to their advantage now than in the past.

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      10-24-2011, 01:51 PM   #12
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My 1996 E36 328i with the equivalent of premium and cold weather packages stickered at $39k.

You can now get an E90 328i for $35k that is better equipped, safer, better handling, more fuel efficient, and faster in every measureable way.

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      10-24-2011, 04:23 PM   #13
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E90 330 was the best bang for the buck when you factored for inflation. E36 was the least IMO.
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